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Triggering Reflection for NQTs: A promising tool?. Maureen Killeavy, Anne Moloney & Marie Clarke University College Dublin. Challenges of their new roles. Preparing multiple classes, managing classroom environments and adapting to changing school contexts (Totterdell et al, 2004,

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triggering reflection for nqts a promising tool

Triggering Reflection for NQTs: A promising tool?

Maureen Killeavy, Anne Moloney &

Marie Clarke

University College Dublin

challenges of their new roles
Challenges of their new roles

Preparing multiple classes, managing classroom environments and adapting to changing school contexts (Totterdell et al, 2004,

Killeavy & Murphy, 2006, Cameron, 2007).

Their work is a complex field comprising and demanding

skills & abilities in a number of interrelated areas,

personal, peer and professional (Richardson & Placier, 2001).

Beginning teachers encountering ‘practice shock’and may question their professional motivations. (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002)

Beginning teachers very concerned with relationships with colleagues (Vonk, 1983: Killeavy, 2006)

importance of the induction phase

Importance of the Induction Phase

No more important phase for the development and professionalisation of teachers (Hargreaves, 1994)

Teachers’ initial qualifications and induction experiences can have a major positive effect on student learning and achievement. (Darling Hammond)

Induction phase –‘a period of concentrated professional learning both in terms of pedagogical skills and in terms of professional identity development’ (Ketchermans, 2004: 24)

the importance of reflection

The Importance of Reflection

Research indicates that effective practice is linked to inquiry, reflection, and continuous professional growth.

By gaining a better understanding of their own teaching styles through reflective practice, teachers improve their effectiveness .

Reflective practice is a critical process in refining one's artistry or craft in a specific discipline. Schon (1989)

Challenges to teacher reflection include the reluctance of teachers to disturb their own personal identity & the perception of the teaching as a technocratic performance

(Ball & Cohen, 1999).

the context of the study

The Context of the Study

The National Induction Programme - post primary Teachers

No formal induction provision till 2002 - some initiatives in schools – usually small scale

Major official and research documents in the 1990s stresses the need for inductionSimilarly documents from EU and OECD

Teaching Council Act (2001)

Teacher as lifelong learner; spirit of collegiality

The National Induction programme

nitpp pp

National Induction Project on Teacher Induction for post primary teachers established in 2002

Two strands - Primary and post primary

Seminar workshop programme for NQTs

Parallel programme for mentors

Mentoring support for NQTs in school

Needs analysis - NQTS and School Principals

Action research developmental approach

Partnership process involving the major stakeholders in Irish Education

TES Dept of Ed & Science, Colleges and Universities, Teacher Unions, Schools, Education Centres

Grew from small beginnings to a national programme

the purpose of the study

The purpose of the study

This study aims to provide insights into the challenges experienced by NQTS concerning reflection as they come to terms with their roles. It focuses on:

Reflection within beginning teachers’ peer groups;

2. The role of reflection in the formation of values and attitudinal dispositions; NQTs ’ experience;

3. Challenges to reflection and how it may be triggered

research methodology

Research Methodology

Participants 60 NQTs in 5 areas

Data derived from

questionnaires - textual analysis

focus group discussions

indepth interviews with loosely-focused ques,ions

Primarily qualitative

using a triangulated approach

Standard research procedures

re piloting, ethical considerations etc of records

(FoI, Data Protection)

using ict for reflection 1

Using ICT for Reflection 1

Schools widely dispersed geographically

Often only one NQT in a particular school

Trusting relationship with mentors not yet extablished

NQTs isolated socially

Previous experience of using this method for reflection

using ict for reflection 2

Using ICT for Reflection 2

Social Networking

Private social network site

Voluntary activity

Generational issues

nqts experience
NQTs’ Experience

’Positive Affirmation & Negative Reinforcement

The experience

The initial reaction

The interpretation

The contribution of the experience to their professional values and beliefs

nqt 8 affirmation
NQT 8 - Affirmation
  • I was awarded Best Construction Student of 2005 in my LC year
  • The teacher appreciated my enthusiasm for the subject and my desire to be a teacher
  • Inspired me to inspire my students to be the best they can be
nqt 17 affirmation
NQT 17 Affirmation
  • During transition year the Art teacher told me I had artistic ability and asked me to study art for my LC
  • The teacher used positive reinforcement and tried to increase my confidence
  • It showed me the importance of positive reinforcement and praise. A few words can have a huge impact on a person
nqt 22 affirmation
NQT 22 Affirmation
  • As a student my teachers and peers singled me out as a prefect and for the first time in my student days I felt affirmed, not because of a grade but because of who I was which meant more to me
  • Affirmation is key to the future of a child not necessarily for their academic success but for whom they are as people.
  • Allowing a pupil to do something and giving them the time and space to do so is them most important aspect of the classroom.
nqt 3 positive affirmation
NQT 3 Positive Affirmation
  •  Respect achieved from a Home EC. teacher. Very strict but fair. Trying to achieve her respect always from then on


  • Hard to achieve respect and be strict at the same time. Needs to be worked on if I were to bring this into the classroom
  • Strive to mirror some techniques that this teacher had. Yet, it is quite hard when the subjects are different. English not very easy to ‘learn off’ Varies in the different topics covered
ngt6 negative reinforcement
NGT6 Negative Reinforcement
  • Failed to answer a question and teacher spent the rest of the lesson telling me I was useless and would never amount to anything
  • Tears Humiliation but I studied Science till I got an A in Junior Certificate
  • The teacher was absolutely in the wrong
  • I will never humiliate a student or declare them useless
nqt44 negative reinforcement
NQT44 Negative Reinforcement
  • I forgot to do homework and the whole class was punished
  • Embarrassment, worry, nervousness of the consequences with classmates
  • Teacher trying to encourage united work ethic Teacher was himself disappointed with me as I was generally a good
  • I am reluctant now to punish a whole class based on one pupils negligence. It breeds resentment towards you because of its inherent unfairness
nqt29 negative reinforcement
NQT29 Negative Reinforcement
  • Accused of copying a spelling test
  • Tears, humiliation and anger at the unfairness
  • The teacher was absolutely in the wrong
  • I will never humiliate a student or declare them useless
respect and affirmation
Respect and Affirmation

‘What makes real reflection difficult is the realization of the powerful effects teacher behavior and of classroom interaction’.

‘I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Mr X’ …It’s scary when you think of it’

To this day I won’t serve that so and so in our own shop

challenges to professional confidence

Challenges to Professional Confidence

‘You have to be prepared o admit that you’re in the wrong and that can be hard’

‘If you don’t ap[pear to be on top of the job you won’t have one next year’

‘NQTs often intimidated - not necessarily intentional but you must deal with it somehow’

cultural climate of the school not always favourable

Cultural Climate of the School not Always Favourable

‘Negotiating the political-cultural aspect of school was a problem for me they were not all supportive’

‘Staff room described as ‘a minefield’ not easy to find a helpful ear’

‘I believed the bit about a conspiracy to make this period a testing time...’I felt there was a bit of it going on’.

personal professional issues

Personal/Professional Issues

A full work load is exhausting, particularly emotionally don’t want to use up your emotional energy opn that’

‘Establishing a social context in a new environment takes tome, of you are tired and fed up loneliness in the new situation needs to be fought.

reflection re teachers professional knowledge
Reflection re Teachers’ Professional Knowledge

‘Teachers’ professional development is generated through the interplay between their work and their life experience and the knowledge developed in this way is tacit and personal’ (Connelly & Clandinin, 1985).

Tacit nature of teacher professional knowledge is problematic (Schon, 1983, 1987)

‘...practice is morethan practical, that inquiry is more than an artful rendering of teachers’ practical knowledge ... ‘ (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999, p. 37)

that inward eye
That inward eye
  • Emotion recollected in tranquilety
        • Wordsworth
  • ‘To flash’ may be useful but it is not enough
  • If reflection is the key to professional development it must be:
    • Purposeful;
    • Honest;
    • Frequent;
    • Valued;
    • Safe
conclusions 1
Conclusions 1

Reluctance must be interpreted with care

Indicative of importance of reflection rather than the opposite

In discussing remembered experience of their education no reference was made to their Teacher Education

conclusions 2
Conclusions 2

Reflection of school experience affects professional values fundamentally and positively

It cannot be assumed that similar experiences affect all students positively

More questions than answers

Levels of knowing – levels of sharing even with oneself